Further glimpses of the strange world of football behind closed doors have come from Austria, where an investigation into Red Bull Salzburg’s games revealed that a lack of fans off the pitch coincided with a lack of argument.

Researchers from the University of Salzburg examined 20 Salzburg games, 10 before and 10 after the lockdown, in order to observe the “emotional behavior and interactions” between players and officials.

On average, the study found that games without fans had 19.5% fewer “emotional” incidents such as arguments or arguments. The results also showed a sharp decrease in interactions with the referee. In the pre-pandemic half of the study, the officer got involved in 39.4% of the emotional incidents, but without incitement from the bleachers, that number fell to just over a quarter, 25.2%.

Interestingly, however, actions involving self-criticism increased while actions involving conflict with others decreased. The study model, the emotional behavior analysis system in football, observed the players’ non-verbal behavior and physical cues and added emotional values ​​to them. It found that “self-reproach” increased after a player missed a chance to score in games without fans.

Michael Leitner, one of the authors of the report to be published in the journal Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, said: “Our findings show that from a sports psychological point of view, the absence of supporters has a significant impact on the behavior of players, staff and officials . Without the external factor of supporters, players and staff were more likely to remain calm and less engrossed in arguments and discussions, which fell 4.7% and 5.1%, respectively. “

The authors conclude that further research is needed to confirm the trend, and other phenomena associated with behind-closed-door gaming have proven less noticeable over time.

Data from the German Bundesliga last summer apparently showed a sharp decline in the “home advantage”, with the proportion of games won by the home team falling by almost half from 40% to 21%. However, in an article published this week by the CIES Football Observatory, results in 66 leagues fell just 3 percent, from 45.1% between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 to 42.0% between April last year and now.

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A similar return to normality has struck the “glut of goals” in the Premier League behind closed doors. The English top league scored an average of 3.79 goals per game after the first four games of the current season, well above the average. That number has now fallen to 2.72 goals per game, exactly the same as last year and a little less than in 2018-19 when it was 2.82.